The Atkins diet overhaul

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The controversial Atkins diet, popular with super-fit celebs such as Jennifer Aniston, has been given a much-needed overhaul.

The latest Atkins diet book to hit the shelves, The New Atkins for a New You: The ultimate diet for shedding weight and feeling great, promotes a revised program called the "optimal protein diet", promising up to a 7kg weight loss in two weeks — and it's already made it on to the New York Times' bestsellers list.

The Atkins diet was developed initially in 1972 by Dr Robert Atkins, a US cardiologist. It was re-launched in 1992 and became a worldwide craze.

However, the diet was criticised for its extremely high levels of protein and saturated fats, and unwanted side effects such as lethargy, constipation and bad breath.

VIEW ARTICLE: 31 days to an A-list body

The new diet includes more vegetables and reduced amounts of animal fat and protein but still limits, especially in the beginning, nutrient-rich wholegrains, fruits and legumes. says the updates include:

  • a daily requirement for at least five servings of high-fibre "foundation vegetables";
  • easy ways to reduce or eliminate symptoms that may accompany the initial conversion to a low-carb eating approach;
  • advice on how to smooth the transition from one phase to the next, ensuring the gradual and natural adoption of healthy, permanent eating habits; and
  • a choice of two paths to take in phase four, lifetime maintenance.

"The research shows it's a healthy lifestyle and many more foods are a part of it," co-author Eric Westman, director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic in Durham, North Carolina, told USA Today.

"It's also a therapeutic diet for people with diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides or high blood pressure. People who follow it have improvements."

VIEW GALLERY: Million-dollar bodies

Australian nutritionist Joanna McMillan Price spoke about the major changes to the diet on TODAY on Tuesday, but said there were still problems with it.

See the video above for the full interview.

"Basically, what they've done is they've recognised, first up, that not all carbs are bad for us," McMillan Price said.

And indeed, despite the popularity of low-carb diets, research has proven that carbs are not the enemy.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found obese people who followed either a low-carbohydrate or a low-fat diet for one year maintained a modest weight loss, around 2kg to 4kg, after three years. Those who followed a low-carb diet lost more weight initially but tended to regain more weight by the end of three years.

"This is certainly the right move in the direction for Atkins. I still think there are major flaws in the diet," McMillan Price said.

"They have at least started to limit the amount saturated fats and animal fats in the diet.

"I think this is an improvement but there are still some funny things. They still limit when you can start introducing nuts and seeds, when you can start having certain types of vegetables and I think that all gets incredibly complex."

See the video above for the full interview.

For health, beauty, celeb gossip and more, visit:

Your say: Would you try the new Atkins?

iStockEasiest weight loss tip ever to cut the calories in rice by up to 60 percent iStockRaw milk drastically increases risk of foodborne illness, study says Getty ImagesWhat Angelina Jolie's ovary removal surgery involved, and what it means for women at risk iStockBrain hack: Take a power nap to improve your memory five-fold